10 Steps to Getting the Most Out of Your iPad (For Teachers)


So you’ve just bought an iPad? You were finally swayed by what everyone’s saying about it. You can’t wait to get started so that you can see for yourself what all the hype’s about. You ask a few friends for recommendations on what apps to download and off you go…

Not so fast!

If you go this route, you will probably end up with a very expensive toy that you don’t play with very much… Except when the kids pick it up to play Angry Birds, or when you flip through Facebook – or when you feel like ‘surfing’ the Internet. I’ve seen it happen to about half the teachers I know who have bought one.

I need to tell you that your iPad can do incredible things… But only if you’re prepared to learn new skills and change the way you use a computer.

It’s a bit like traveling: you can tour a new city and see the sights and take happy snaps and get some Starbucks cappuccino… Or, you can go off the beaten track, get to know the locals and learn to truly experience the diversity of the people and the culture. I did this in Prague, and I learnt to absolutely love the place. It changed me.

If you’re going to get the most out of your iPad, you need to change how you do things. And trust me, this is something worth doing. Give yourself over to the process, and you may even start learning to see the world differently.

Here’s how I think a novice iPad owner should go about getting the most out of their shiny new iPad…

STEP ONE: Get connected with Twitter. Keep in mind that you will be using this account in your professional capacity, not as a personal ‘I’m feeling happy today’ account. Avoid following celebrities and news sites. Choose a few popular education tweeters and follow them. As you go, you can begin following people they mention. Block any spammers that follow you. Twitter is integrated into the iPad, so make sure you set it up properly in Settings. (I’m @SeanHCole if you’d like to follow me!)

STEP TWO: Download and customise two apps called Zite and Flipboard (both free). You will now get customised news and information. It is also possible to read your Twitter feed on Flipboard. Share your favourite stories on Twitter directly from both of these apps.

STEP THREE: Download the ITunesU and Podcasts apps. Download and watch / listen to whatever appeals to you. This step is a must!

STEP FOUR: Download and set up Dropbox on your computer. Then download the app. Whatever you put in one will be available on the other. And you can share files with whoever you want.

STEP FIVE: Download Pages, Numbers and Keynote. These are paid apps, but thoroughly worth having. The Pages app in particular has changed the way I work. It is thoroughly intuitive, and a guide is included to get you going.

STEP SIX: The most crucial step for teachers… Download and learn to use the following apps (all free!): Nearpod, Khan Academy, Educreations, Socrative and Prezi viewer. This will change the way you things in your class!

STEP SEVEN: Download ‘Edudemic’ magazine from the newsstand. They have a few free full-length magazines to get you going.

STEP EIGHT: Download and play with these apps: PDF-notes, Idea Sketch, Adobe Ideas and Audio memos. All three of these can do some very useful things. (Make sure you download the free versions.)

STEP NINE: Download and experience a high-end app like Our Choice. It costs money, but you will start to appreciate where textbooks are going (download iBooks for more). I particularly love the windmill that you can blow!

STEP TEN: Download the TED app and watch Sir Ken Robinson. I still cannot believe that there are teachers out there who have neither heard of the organization or the man!

In completing these steps, you will begin to learn about how the iPad works. I have chosen not to walk you through each step in great detail, as a great part of the process is learning by doing. You will notice that your iPad does not come with an instruction manual. This is not an oversight. It is a strategy to get you tinkering and experimenting and figuring things out.

One day our schools will work the same way.

Enjoy your iPad!

Don’t forget to look me up on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SeanHCole



  1. This is superb, Sean. There area few apps you mention that I don’t have ye1, so I am going to take your advice and download them. (Fiona Beal)


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